By Jerry Lips
In a room with so many of my heroes
Much has been written about the P-51 Mustang escorting the B-17s to target, with little mention of the oxygen delivery system that made it possible. Dr. Forrest Bird is in the Inventors Hall of Fame, having invented the heart-lung machine and scores of other lifesaving devices, including the “Baby Bird,” which has saved thousands of neonatal patients each year since 1971. Dr. Bird entered MIT at age 13. Dee Howard ended his formal education at age13 and began his remarkable aviation career, helping Bill Lear build the first Learjet, inventing the reverse thrusters and making scores of other significant contributions to aviation.
Hank Beaird is one of the most respected test pilots ever, and of course, Bob Hoover and Chuck Yeager are “National Treasures.” But no list would be complete without the brilliant Ed Swearingen, Milan Haven, Tom Danaher, Jim Raisbeck, Frank Robinson, Joe Clark and Robert Duncan.
Al Ueltschi: this humble aviation giant’s contributions stretch farther than the eye can see. Steven F Udvar-Hazy is an inspiration for the American dream and the best example of entrepreneurship, citizenship and stewardship of aviation’s past and future.
Clay Lacy has flown more and in more types of aircraft than any other human on the planet; it’s only fitting that the first chapter of the book, “Living Legends of Aviation,” be titled, “The People I’ve Known and the Planes I’ve Flown.”
Bill Anders, astronaut, Air Force major general, leading aerospace executive and entrepreneur, continues his extraordinary contributions to America’s aviation heritage. Our greatest examples of heroes of space and of the air, Buzz Aldrin, Gene Cernan, Julie Clark, Patty Wagstaff, Steve Fossett, were all in attendance.
Aviation’s quiet legends of generosity, helping preserve aviation history and inspiring future generations: Bruce McCaw, Robert Pond, Kermit Weeks and Carl Williams. The new generation of entrepreneurial geniuses led by Dale and Alan Klapmeier, Vern Raburn, Linden Blue, Richard Santulli and Rick Adam.
Yes, it was quite an evening! As Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes Magazine, said of the evening, “It was a once in a lifetime experience, being in a room with so many of my heroes.”